Archive for the ‘English - general issues’ Category

ELT equip students with communication skills to excel

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals play a crucial role in equipping students with the necessary communication skills to excel in the workplace.

Sabah Minister of Education and Innovation, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said ELT professionals therefore need a certain degree of autonomy in exercising their professional judgment about what and how to teach.

In his forward address on the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT) 2019 and the 3rd Language Invention, Innovation & Design (LIID) Exposition 2019 to be held at the Pacific Sutera Hotel here on Aug 21 and 22, he said to produce innovative graduates, educators must be innovative too and in this global era, ELT professionals have a number of innovative tools at their disposal to enhance the teaching and learning process.

“It is imperative that they adopt a liberal mind-set that encourages exploration of novel ideas and out-of-the-box thinking when conducting classes, training, consultancy and research,” stressed Dr Yusof, who is co-Patron of My CASELT 2019.

“However, for teachers serving in rural areas, particularly in Sabah, they are faced with the challenge of implementing creative and innovative teaching methods with limited resources.”

They have to be extremely creative in their teaching methods to sustain the interest of millennial, he said.

“Malaysia’s vision to transform from a middle to high-income advanced nation is heavily dependent on the ability of its people to initiate, employ and exploit innovative ideas to drive and sustain economic growth,” he said, adding this requires a shift towards work processes that utilise technology and new practices to produce goods and services at lower costs and minimal time.

“Consequently, one of the initiatives in the Malaysian Education Blueprint is the development of an Innovation Ecosystem which seeks to equip graduates with the aspiration and ability to come up with new, creative ways of doing things and solving problems,” he said.

Dr Yusof said graduates can no longer be job seekers, instead they should be job creators in a global village, where English is the lingua franca.

Proficiency in English is no longer an option but a necessity, he said, adding that greater teacher empowerment could possibly result in better learning outcomes.

He expressed his confidence that the MY CASELT will provide the appropriate platform for teachers, researchers, industry and stakeholders to identify issues, propose ideas and set strategies to transform and enhance the education system in Malaysia.

The My_ASELT 2019 and LIID 2019 will be organised by Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), through Akademi Pengajian Bahasa (APB) or in English, the Academy of Language Studies Shah Alam and UiTM Sabah Branch.

The My_CASELT and LIID 2019 are unique and dedicated platforms for sharing current practices and new perspectives, said Vice Chancellor of UiTM Emeritus Professor Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim, who is also co-Patron of My_CASELT 2019.

This event provides opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaborations which will create impactful research and innovations for the world, he said, adding over the years, the conference served as a platform for global synergies across multilingual and multicultural language learning environments.

In the era of digital media, in a world without walls, where people are connected via social media, the role of English as a lingua franca has become even more prevalent, he stated.

“In addressing the increasing needs for cross-cultural communications, it is vital that ELT practitioners move in tandem with the development in the multi-ethnic, multilingual and multicultural global context.

“Being a centre of excellence, it is encouraging to see that the university is on track in positioning itself as a point of reference for the future,” he said.

He said with the themes of “Empowering ELT Professionals in a Globalised Environment” and “Empowering Practitioners’ Innovation in Language Teaching” for this year’s My_CASELT and LIID, respectively, the presenters and participants will have a unique and dedicated platform to share current practices and new perspectives with both scholars and practitioners.

”I believe that this event provides opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaborations which will create impactful research and innovations for the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rector of UiTM Sabah, Associate Professor Dr Hj Abdul Kadir Hj Rosline said the My_CASELT this year is significant in that it marks the first time this conference is held here in Sabah.

The collaboration between APB and UiTM Sabah has brought to fruition today’s conference as an avenue for language researchers and practitioners within the English Language Teaching (ELT) community from the Asian region and beyond to share expertise and forge professional connections, he said.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/32870

English proficiency crucial in nation building

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The education system must ensure that students are equipped with necessary skills including communication and English language proficiency to join the workforce and develop the nation.

Minister of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr. Yusof Yacob said education is in the forefront of all business and technological advances, and that Malaysia cannot afford to lag behind other countries particularly in the South East Asia region.

He asserted that graduates can no longer wait for jobs to come but instead, create jobs themselves and turn it into industries.

The Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025, he added, has mooted the idea of an Innovation Ecosystem as one of the platforms to enhance the competency of future workforce, which was also a means to boost graduates’ marketability.

He further pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir had stressed on the importance of teaching and learning English, giving English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals a fit in producing marketable graduates.

“He (Mahathir) also mentioned that proficiency in English can help generate more employment opportunities. Hence, the ability to master English is part and parcel of producing competitive graduates and the role of the ELT professionals cannot be disputed.

“No matter how good and skilled a person is, ideas remain as ideas if not communicated and utilized.

“English may be the lingua franca, but it is not our mother tongue. Thus, ELT professionals play a vital role in equipping students with essential communication skills to meet the needs of the industry,” he said.

His speech was delivered by assistant minister Jenifer Lasimbang during the opening of the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT), and 3rd Language Invention, Innovation and Design (LIID) Exposition here Wednesday.

Dr. Yusof noted that the new generation of students presents a bigger challenge to educators as access to technological advances have turned traditional classroom into a dull and uninspiring place.

As such, he said educators have to be innovative while ELTprofessionals need to require autonomy in determining ways to connect with the new breed of learners.

“The use of novel ideas and out-of-the-box techniques should be encouraged and facilitated so that academic activities are lively and productive at both mental and emotional levels.

“Accordingly, empowering ELT professionals to use their discretion should be part of our academic agenda,” he said. The two-day event organized by MARA University of Technology (UiTM) Sabah Academy of Language Studies saw more than 120 local and international researchers presenting their research and showcasing their inventions and designs in ELT.

Themed ‘Empowering ELT professionals in a Globalised Environment’ and ‘Empowering Practitioners’ Innovation in Language Teaching’, it was aimed at providing platform for leading ELT experts to discuss and show their research findings on ELT.

According to UiTM vice chancellor Emeritus Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Azraai Kassim, it was critical as language fluency and effective communication abilities would enable individuals reach out better to the world.

Stressing on the vitality of language practitioners to move in tandem with today’s development, he said it is crucial to ensure that graduates have relevant knowledge and skills to take on future job challenges.

He added that practitioners need to rethink strategically and use their credentials to offer new learning experience and industry-relevant skills.

“It is also necessary that a lot of effort is put into exploring innovative learning and teaching resources and partnering with other institutions to provide fresh insights that will be of use to not only the academics and students, but more so the communities we serve.

“We must ensure that any new pedagogical thinking is complemented by continuous and innovative curriculum design, training and re-skilling so that no segment of the academic workforce is left behind.

“Hence, in the quest to strengthen students’ commands of English, I believe academics need to keep up with the latest teaching approaches and techniques to cater to the current and future generation of digital natives,” he said. His speech was delivered by deputy vice chancellor Industry, Community, Alumni and Entrepreneurship Network UiTM Prof. Dato’ Dr. Rahmat Mohamad.

By DK RYNI QAREENA.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/32971

Forging cross-cultural connections, prospective networking via ELT

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The English Language Teaching (ELT) forges closer cross-cultural connections and prospective networking and collaboration among people of different origins and nationalities.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said cross-cultural connections, prospective networking and collaboration foster better understanding of the rich diversity of the cultures and customs of the people.

“In the era of digital media, the role of English as a lingua franca in promoting cross-border tourism cannot be underestimated,” she said at the conference dinner of the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT) and the 3rd Language Invention, Innovation & Design (LIID) Exposition 2019 held at the Magellan Sutera Resort and Spa here Wednesday. Her speech was read by her assistant minister Assafal P. Alian.

“It is no exaggeration to say that one can sell a place without language. In order to promote places of interest to visitors, English the language for international communication has the power to introduce not only the place, but also the local languages and cultures to people from other regions and cultures,” she opined.

Liew also stressed that language education plays a vital role in promoting the diverse languages, cultures and customs of the various ethnic groups in Sabah.

On the dinner theme “Celebrating Multiculturalism through Education”, she said in order to showcase the multiculturalism of Sabah in the international level, networking and collaboration in the education domain, particularly research and publication across nations and cultures was quintessential.

“Language serves as a crucial tool to understand the cultures and customs of a community. In preserving the indigenous languages of the communities in the Asian region, there are still a number of local languages that are yet to be explored and studied in depth. Perhaps, research gaps such as this, can be considered for future research for language scholars and researchers.”

She also mentioned that Sabah is one of the most culturally diverse states in Malaysia, is home to more than 30 different ethnic groups who speak over 80 local dialects.

“Sabah is also rich in nature and wildlife, which has become a key tourist attraction to visitors from abroad. In 2019, our plan is to boost tourism activities on the East and West coasts of Sabah.

“In Kundasang, we have the famous Mount Kinabalu; in Sandakan, we have the orangutan sanctuaries; in Tawau we have the world’s tallest tropical tree; in Semporna we have world-class diving spots and in Lahad Datu, we have one of the oldest rainforests suitable for tourists who love adventures,” she said.

Meanwhile,, Rector of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Datuk Associate Professor Dr Haji Abdul Kadir Haji Rosline said academic discourse such as conference presentations and discussions enhance the effectiveness of English Language Teaching (ELT) in respective languages teaching and learning setting.

The theme for this year’s My_CASELT conference dinner is “Celebrating Multiculturalism through Education” with two possible interpretations.

The theme chosen reflects multiculturalism as manifested here in the gathering of academics, researchers, language educators and language teacher trainers within the community of ELT from various racial, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

“It is like a melting pot which embodies the diverse cultures, traditions and values of individual participants. And tonight, through this conference, we are celebrating the cultural diversity and richness among us,” he stressed.

“Second, multiculturalism is also celebrated in English language education,” he said adding that adopting a liberal cultural stance in language education or in Kubota’s (2012) term, “liberal multiculturalism” requires them to accept, appreciate, respect and tolerate diverse cultures, customs and lifestyles which may be very different from our own cultures and values.

He said in teacher-student classroom interaction, language educators are exposed to learners’ different cultures and customs and vice-versa.

According to him, in the local multi-ethnic, multilingual, and multicultural society, the English language educator may be of Chinese ethnicity while the learner may come from the Malay ethnic group with different cultures, beliefs and lifestyles.

“In the second language classroom, language teachers often adopt a liberal stance towards multiculturalism and diversity. They embrace cultural differences, accept unfamiliar value systems and appreciate foreign customs and practices (Kubota, 2012). Thus, multiculturalism is celebrated in the ELT classroom,” he said.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/33009

English proficiency crucial in nation building

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The education system must ensure that students are equipped with necessary skills including communication and English language proficiency to join the workforce and develop the nation.

Minister of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr. Yusof Yacob said education is in the forefront of all business and technological advances, and that Malaysia cannot afford to lag behind other countries particularly in the South East Asia region.

He asserted that graduates can no longer wait for jobs to come but instead, create jobs themselves and turn it into industries.

The Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025, he added, has mooted the idea of an Innovation Ecosystem as one of the platforms to enhance the competency of future workforce, which was also a means to boost graduates’ marketability.

He further pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir had stressed on the importance of teaching and learning English, giving English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals a fit in producing marketable graduates.

“He (Mahathir) also mentioned that proficiency in English can help generate more employment opportunities. Hence, the ability to master English is part and parcel of producing competitive graduates and the role of the ELT professionals cannot be disputed.

“No matter how good and skilled a person is, ideas remain as ideas if not communicated and utilized.

“English may be the lingua franca, but it is not our mother tongue. Thus, ELT professionals play a vital role in equipping students with essential communication skills to meet the needs of the industry,” he said.

His speech was delivered by assistant minister Jenifer Lasimbang during the opening of the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT), and 3rd Language Invention, Innovation and Design (LIID) Exposition here Wednesday.

Dr. Yusof noted that the new generation of students presents a bigger challenge to educators as access to technological advances have turned traditional classroom into a dull and uninspiring place.

As such, he said educators have to be innovative while ELTprofessionals need to require autonomy in determining ways to connect with the new breed of learners.

“The use of novel ideas and out-of-the-box techniques should be encouraged and facilitated so that academic activities are lively and productive at both mental and emotional levels.

“Accordingly, empowering ELT professionals to use their discretion should be part of our academic agenda,” he said. The two-day event organized by MARA University of Technology (UiTM) Sabah Academy of Language Studies saw more than 120 local and international researchers presenting their research and showcasing their inventions and designs in ELT.

Themed ‘Empowering ELT professionals in a Globalised Environment’ and ‘Empowering Practitioners’ Innovation in Language Teaching’, it was aimed at providing platform for leading ELT experts to discuss and show their research findings on ELT.

According to UiTM vice chancellor Emeritus Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Azraai Kassim, it was critical as language fluency and effective communication abilities would enable individuals reach out better to the world.

Stressing on the vitality of language practitioners to move in tandem with today’s development, he said it is crucial to ensure that graduates have relevant knowledge and skills to take on future job challenges.

He added that practitioners need to rethink strategically and use their credentials to offer new learning experience and industry-relevant skills.

“It is also necessary that a lot of effort is put into exploring innovative learning and teaching resources and partnering with other institutions to provide fresh insights that will be of use to not only the academics and students, but more so the communities we serve.

“We must ensure that any new pedagogical thinking is complemented by continuous and innovative curriculum design, training and re-skilling so that no segment of the academic workforce is left behind.

“Hence, in the quest to strengthen students’ commands of English, I believe academics need to keep up with the latest teaching approaches and techniques to cater to the current and future generation of digital natives,” he said. His speech was delivered by deputy vice chancellor Industry, Community, Alumni and Entrepreneurship Network UiTM Prof. Dato’ Dr. Rahmat Mohamad.

By DK RYNI QAREENA.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/32971

Engaging audience key to public speaking

Friday, August 9th, 2019

KOTA KINKBALU: The most challenging task in public speaking is to grab the attention of the audience and to maintain it throughout the whole speech.

It is truly disheartening when after two minutes of a speaker commencing a speech, the audience starts looking through the window or chatting or worse still yawning widely.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. However, the skill to engage the audience in public speaking is important in many sectors such as marketing, teaching, politics, community work and many others.

Sabah English Aspiration Society (SEAS) has given a serious attention in nurturing this skill at the young age.

During the recent SEAS English Camp held from Aug 3 to Aug 4 at the SJKC Pei Yin, Membakut, Engaging the Audience Competition was the peak event of the camp.

Out of over 200 participants, about 20 students age between 10 and 12 years old were recruited to participate in the Engaging the Audience Competition.

Each participant is mentored on one to one basis by a coach.

The coaches are Malaysian students who reside in the United Kingdom, mainly from London and Manchester.

Nur Ashiera Natasha from Inanam, Kota Kinabalu emerged champion and took home the Zainal A Sanusi Trophy.

She was mentored by Assoc Siti Nur Syakirah Mohd Fauzi from London who was very excited that her talented young mentee is not only passionate about public speaking but also confident.

Annabelle Magdalene and Lucas Chong, both from SJKC Kung Ming Beaufort, won second and third places, respectively.

Mohd. Adib Abdul Rahman from Windsor, England who led the team of judges had a tough job in deciding the best amongst the young talents.

The participants of the Engaging the Audience Competition also had an opportunity to get tips from a renowned international trainers in public speaking, Ahmad Fikri and Jamilah Samian.

SEAS President, Dr Zainab Kassim said that this year, the English Camp by SEAS is held concurrently with Active Learning Workshop for the teachers and Parental Skill Workshop.

This year also saw the emergence of SEAS Kitchen which was in charge of the food and drinks during the camp and SEAS Martial Arts which performed during the closing ceremony.

Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Education and Innovation Jenifer Lasimbang officiated the closing ceremony of SEAS English Camp 2019.

In her closing speech Jenifer shared her experience on learning English the hard way during her time.

She is very pleased that SEAS conduct English Camp every year which creates a golden opportunity for the students.

The Assistant Minister also expressed her gratitude to all sectors which made the camp successful namely Elyna Wong, the principle of SJKC Pei Yin Membakut and her team, Sirhajwan Idek from Keningau Vocational College and his superb team of 35 facilitators and Julie Ezwin and Salina Othman from United Kingdom with their team of UK facilitators.

About 30 UK facilitators came to help the SEAS English Camp 2019 in Sabah and paid for all their travelling expenses themselves.

Dr. Zainab in her closing speech expressed her appreciation to Budreh Hj Ahmad the Beaufort District Education Director for his support to SEAS.

This year the English Camp was participated by 200 students from almost 20 schools from all over Sabah and Labuan.

She attributed the success of this year’s camp to the able management and leadership of the camp director, Zaiazieyana Yanti Zainal, SEAS Secretary,  from SK Pengiran Jaya Membakut.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/139044/engaging-audience-key-to-public-speaking/

Exposing students to English

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Farah Mardhy says the ministry is working with international schools to provide students an ecosystem to speak English.

STUDENTS will get to practise speaking English under the Education Ministry’s latest effort to boost proficiency in the language.

Soon, our students can mingle with their peers in international schools under a new programme by the ministry, said the Education Ministry’s English Language Teaching Centre director Farah Mardhy Aman.

An international school in Johor has already agreed to the proposal, she said.

“We’re hoping this will lead to more collaborations with other international schools so that our students can go and immerse themselves in an English-speaking ecosystem.

“When our students go over, they will communicate in English because of the environment there, ” she said, adding that engaging the corporate sector was among the ministry’s efforts to boost proficiency.

Speaking to reporters during the Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition prize-giving ceremony on July 27 at Sunway University, she said since the Malaysia Education Blueprint was launched in 2013, the command of the language has improved.

“The ministry is very proud of the involvement of schools – through their own initiative – in activities like the Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition because it means that they are motivated to do better.

“We hope to see more of these kinds of opportunities being initiated by the private sector.”

The mastery of English is paramount for students to become a citizen of the world who can contribute meaningfully to a better and brighter future, she said earlier in her speech.

“The ministry recognises the importance of English in the development of our nation’s competitive edge as it is the language used in many aspects of global interactions.

“Hence, we have employed multiple practical measures and policies to guarantee that our children, the future leaders and role models of Malaysia, have a strong command of the language.”

While the government and the private sector are undertaking all these steps to improve English proficiency among Malaysians, this national agenda requires the collective effort and support from all Malaysians in order to succeed, she said.

By CHRISTINA CHIN
Read more a
t https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/08/04/exposing-students-to-english#6UYpmJx3W43Iw7oC.99

Learn English in daily life

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
In real life children had little to do with English in Science and Mathematical subjects. Therefore teaching the subjects in English may not be able to assist children to thrive in the language. — NSTP Archive

English literacy is defined as the ability to read and write in the language.

Literacy is often perceived as cognitive, a set of fixed skills assessed at school.

This means a particular way of reading and writing that is predetermined by the education system.

As a result, we sometimes overlook the role of students’ socio-cultural background that can become a “pool of knowledge” that teachers can exploit

In the Malaysian context, the integration of literacy as a set of skills and as a sociocultural practice is recommended by researchers in the field of English curriculum development.

In Malaysia, children are exposed to English at an early age.

They can spot the language easily through songs, cartoons, movies, games, comics, billboards, restaurant menus and other sources.

Educators need to tap into the knowledge derived from what the children experience in daily life.

In real life, children have little to do with English in Science and Mathematics.

Therefore, teaching Science and Mathematics in English may not assist children to thrive in the language.

In fact, using English in Science and Mathematics can complicate the children’s comprehension of the subjects.

I would recommend that English is strengthened through subjects such as information and communications technology (ICT), music and art.

In ICT, for example, children come across many English terms such as “loading” rather than “memuatkan”, “app” rather than “aplikasi” and “CD” rather than “cakera optik” in their daily life when they use ICT tools and gadgets.

In music, teachers can employ nursery rhymes or English songs to teach students.

The media or music room
commonly has a television set, radio or CD player that can be exploited to achieve learning objectives.

The room is also equipped with musical instruments that teachers can benefit from.

They can be used to accompany singing performances.

During art classes, teachers can encourage children to draw comics or cartoon characters and use English words and sentences to complete the drawings.

These activities can be held when teachers are not conducting Bahasa Melayu-based activities that they
normally do as specified in the syllabus.

Such activities are in line with the “learning English in a fun way” concept advocated by the Education Ministry.

Although the practicality of these suggestions may be vague, they can ensure that children’s sociocultural factors are taken into account before any policy is revamped and executed.

The question of “what children do with English in their life?” needs to be considered before any English language policy is implemented.

By SITI SORAYA LIN.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/07/508336/learn-english-daily-life

New syllabus good, but can be better.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

WHILE welcoming the move to introduce a Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus, stakeholders stress the importance of literature especially in the age of digitisation, and are suggesting some tweaks to the planned syllabus.

Under the new Secondary School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSM) next year, Form Four students will sit for the elective SPM paper with a new format in 2021.

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) is supportive of the new format and structure. But the syllabus aims and learning outcomes should be expanded to include contemporary readings and analytical perspectives, says its president Prof Dr S. Ganakumaran.

He says the choice of texts offered is narrow and traditional.

“We need a wider, more inclusive and progressive perspective of literature and literary texts.

“Open up the space for students to engage with the cross-cultural and global issues,” he says, calling for a wider choice of international and Malaysian texts to be included.

StrEdud_ahz_2306_Book2

Perhaps a section on young adult literature can be included, he suggests. This could attract more students to take up the subject, he says, pointing to how the number of students taking literature has been on a downward trend in recent years. He thinks the lack of interest could be because there’s:

> A general drop in English proficiency;

> The feeling that literature does not have a functional purpose;

> The lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject;

> The reluctance of schools wanting to offer the subject due to timetabling issues; and

> Apprehension that the school’s overall academic performance would drop due to poor performance in the paper.

Universiti Malaya (UM) senior lecturer Dr Grace Lim says having fewer texts to study – a key feature in the new syllabus – means not having to rush through the list.

But Lim from the Faculty of Education, says it also means that students are exposed to less variety so it will depend on the teachers and students to explore on their own.

She’s keen to see how the assessment will be implemented.

“Students can produce reader-response creative works, put on performances and even write critical essays if they want. So I wonder if their results will still be wholly based on the exam.”

She hopes it will be a combination of both formative and summative assessments.

School Improvement Specialist Coach Gladys Francis Joseph favours how the new syllabus encourages teachers to stage performances because it’s really beneficial for students.

Gladys, who was involved in writing the new curriculum and was a trainer for the pilot project, says fewer texts to read and having the exam in the middle of the year would help ‘sell’ the subject.

But most schools say there’s a lack of English Language teachers. And to start a class, one needs at least 15 students. Without the support of the administrators, it is an uphill task.

task

“There are some schools which make it compulsory for students who want to enter the first two Science classes to take up the subject. So, Literature is thriving in these schools due to the policy implemented. Will these students take up the subject if not compelled? A significant number will not.”

Gladys thinks a black-and-white assurance on the prospects of taking English Literature for SPM is needed.

“Will they have an edge over other students for courses in colleges and universities? Parents and school administrators want to see the added value of the subject,” she says, adding that teachers willing to sacrifice their time to start small classes outside the timetable would be helpful. This needs the principal’s support.

The ministry, says Lim, should promote the subject to the public via infographics and social media. It shouldn’t just be done among schools and educators.

Lim says there’s a perception that SPM Literature in English is subjective and difficult to score. Maybe that’s why schools may not want their students to take the subject or let teachers teach it.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan fears that there aren’t enough teachers if there’s an increase in demand for classes.

“Training for literature teachers and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers – who are the majority – are different.”

Literature, he says, is a higher form of language learning that requires a different set of skills to teach.

“Literature is a coherent part of any language learning. But when it’s a subject, it’s a different ball game altogether. Exams and the way you learn are different from learning a language to communicate.”

To get students interested, the texts have to fit with knowledge that the students can relate to, and the level of language mustn’t be too demanding otherwise only those who speak English as a first language would dare take the subject, UM senior lecturer Dr Krishnavanie Shunmugam says.

Those who are struggling with English should not attempt to sit for the new English Literature paper, says Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin.

If the ministry is serious in wanting students to learn and improve their English, the language must be made a compulsory pass in the SPM.

“English Literature is offered only as an elective subject. The new syllabus is good but it’ll only benefit those who are already good in English,” he says, adding that those who can manage it should take the subject.

“It’s definitely a plus. It goes beyond grammar and makes you think about how words are used.”

The buzzword in teaching and learning is HOTS (higher-order thinking skills), which you get ample of in Literature, says Gladys.

“We’re heading to a future controlled by artificial intelligence and machines. Literature can teach the next generation to be more humane, enhance their critical thinking and creativity, and most importantly, develop intuitive knowledge and reasoning skills to distinguish the real from the fictitious.”

Literature is one of those rare subjects that help students understand that not everything is in black and white, says Lim.

It might be unnerving at first but they soon learn that multiple perspectives can exist together. This develops their ability to consider and engage with different ideas and viewpoints.

“The point is not to prove that your opinion is the only one that matters but to give due consideration to how others interpret the texts.”

Literature helps students mature by letting them engage with experiences and situations that they might not have experienced before.

Students will also be more sensitive to how word choice and phrasing are ways through which language represents subjects.

“For example, calling someone a visitor instead of a guest indicates a different attitude towards that individual. In this sense, language is rarely neutral,” she says.

Krishnavanie believes that students who take SPM English Literature have an edge over others when applying for college or university degrees related to languages and linguistics, performing arts, creative writing, media studies, mass communication and language education.

“Even if they’re applying for a degree in the hardcore sciences, having SPM English Literature on their certificate would be impressive because it would imply that the students have not only been exposed to the kind of analytical skills needed for science, but have also been trained to have critical thinking skills necessary for reading literature.”

Literature, in whatever language, mirrors various facets of life – happiness, suffering, evil, goodness and foolishness – in creative forms, she adds.

“Literature has made me more sensitive to what’s happening around me. It’s given me a fresh perspective to stereotypes.”

UM language teacher J. Yasodhara N.V.J. Menon agrees.

“Many people are still stuck in the misconception that literature is old and boring. But they fail to realise that literature is alive, fluid, and in the present. It’s a written record of human consciousness and personal experiences. It tells us that humans are one in their needs and desires.”

Prof Ganakumaran says the study of literature has many benefits. It improves vocabulary and understanding of the different ways language can be used. This gives students the confidence to communicate and express themselves better.

By Christina Chin and Rowena Chua
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/06/23/new-syllabus-good-but-can-be-better/#OycCMrV2xQfhvlGS.99

New SPM English Lit syllabus

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: A Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year in a move to boost proficiency in the language.

Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021, Examinations Syndicate director of examinations Adzman Talib said.

The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama, he said.

Among others, these students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embra­cing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).

The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (by William Butler Yeats).

Under a pilot project which started in 2017, 300 Form Four students from seven schools in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak sat for the International General Certificate in Secondary Education (IGCSE) Eng­lish Literature exam in June 2018 instead of the SPM English Litera­ture paper.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin explained that re-branding the English Literature curriculum was among the ministry’s efforts to enhance the English proficiency of students.

The new Standards-Based English Literature Curriculum for Secon­dary Schools emphasises the importance of sustaining the use of the Eng­lish language within and be­­yond the classroom.

The elective subject serves as pre­paration for studying language or literature at higher levels as well as to enrich students’ knowledge of English, he said.

To encourage uptake among STEM (Science, Technology, Engi­neering and Mathematics) students, the 2021 English Literature exam will be held either in June or July, said Amin.

“This is to alleviate the stress of sitting for many subjects in November and to encourage more students to learn this subject,” he said.

Amin said the ministry wanted to encourage all students, including those in the science and technical fields, to learn this subject, as it would help improve their command of the language through the exposure and study of both local and international texts.

Literature, he said, would improve their proficiency while enhancing their knowledge of history and cultures.

“It also provides vicarious experiences through reading and promotes critical thinking and analytical skills,” he said.

The English Language Teaching Centre and the ministry’s master trainers will train teachers who are interested.

Those with a background in English Literature can be re-posted to the states of their choice.

State education departments will promote the subject at premier and residential schools and oversee the implementation of the new curriculum.

By Christina Chin
Read more a
t https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/23/new-spm-english-lit-syllabus/#LGBqUcq1A2QDB27B.99

Is MUET the right assessment?

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

THE dust has yet to settle on the Education Ministry directive instructing English option teachers to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).

Teachers, who are key to the successful implementation of the programmes aimed at improving English, are unhappy with the directive. And, they’ve taken to social media to question the rationale of it.

A secondary English option teacher who only wanted to be known as Chan, thinks it is not the “right instrument” to gauge the proficiency and ability of teachers to teach the language.

Having taught for two decades, she says it impractical and unnecessary, to have over 20,000 English teachers sit for the exam by December.

“Allow us to attend conferences and conventions so English teachers can pool our resources and help each other.

“Even a mentor-mentee programme within the school, helps. This MUET idea is just a knee jerk reaction that has no long term benefit,” she says.

The Selangor teacher questions the need for English teachers to sit for the test, instead of going through upgrading exercises such as attending conferences and seminars.

Such exercises, she says, are more beneficial than tests. What happens to teachers who don’t do well in the test, she asks.

edudx_090619_WhatisMUET

“If teachers who do not fare well are removed, who will take over the lessons? And if they are not removed, then why bother testing?

“Will there be interventions to help teachers pass?”

She feels the move will discourage teachers, who are already bogged down with many changes in the system, from teaching English.

While it is unlikely that the ministry will budge, a meeting with stakeholders was held to discuss improving the quality of English language education in the country.

Education director-­general Datuk Dr Amin Senin says the ministry was willing to listen to the voices of teachers.

A closed-door meeting with the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), Sarawak Teachers’ Union and the Sabah Government Teachers Union (KGKS) was held in Putrajaya last week.

“We received constructive feedback and input from the unions.

“Various aspects were discussed during the meeting, including the rationale behind the implementation of the English Language Education Reform in Malaysia: The Roadmap 2015-2025,” says Dr Amin.

Abdul Basith doesn’t mind taking proficiency tests to gauge his competency in the language, but MUET just “isn’t good enough”.

The English option teacher from a primary school in Selangor says qualified English teachers have degrees, masters and some even a PhD in the language.

“Why should they revert to MUET?

“I wouldn’t mind other international standard tests but (with MUET), even the competency of invigilators and examiners are questionable.

“Who are they? Are they qualified?” he asks.

He, however, supports the need to gauge the proficiency of language teachers.

“I believe in always upgrading oneself but please use another assessment test, not MUET.”

Faridah Kassim from SMK Aman Jaya also disagrees with the directive. She teaches English to Forms Four and Five.

Instead of theoretically testing a teacher’s proficiency and competency, she says practical courses and training should instead be provided.

“MUET is a pre-university test. Many English option teachers have much higher qualifications. It’s not a good gauge of proficiency.

“Making us sit for MUET feels like a downgrade.”

According to the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta), proficiency is important, but it’s not the sole indicator of a teacher’s competency.

There are limitations to using standardised tests to assess English language teachers, Melta says, such as MUET not aligning to the objective of the ministry’s initiative to test teachers’ competency.

“MUET is a four-skill assessment designed for varsity entry and to assess students’ ability to manage academic requirements in higher education.

“The test is neither focused on teaching, nor on context and language English teachers are likely to use.

“So how can the test results be mapped against the language competency needs of English teachers?”.

There are other existing assessments designed to assess competency, the association says in a statement.

“Valid and reliable means to determine and assess an English teacher’s proficiency are a must if outcomes are to be accepted.

“Sustainable competency among English language teachers can be achieved if they are provided the appropriate environment and support programmes for their development and growth.”

Melta, however, commends the ministry for its initiatives to upgrade the quality of teaching English in the country.

“Melta is prepared to support the ministry in the move to improve English proficiency among students.”

Universiti Malaya Faculty of Education department of language and literacy education senior lecturer Dr Zuwati Hasim questioned whether it’s necessary for English language teachers to sit for the MUET, and the rationale behind it.

She says instructing teachers to sit for a test because of the poor performance among students in speaking the language, is not the best move.

“All English option teachers were screened and interviewed in order to be accepted into a teacher

training programme or into a Bachelor’s Degree of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).

“By right, all English option teachers (would) have sat for at least one proficiency test, be it MUET or IELTS.

“Some teachers feel it is a downgrade and an act of distrust.

“We need to tackle the real issue, find the root cause. Are teachers solely to be blamed for the lack of English language proficiency among learners?” she asks.

Dr Zuwati says for an assessment to be valid, it should achieve what it was designed to measure.

MUET is used as an entry requirement into local universities, so how can it be a good gauge of English option teachers’ proficiency, she asks.

“Instead, the ministry can invest more on professional development training for teachers which should include pedagogical training as well as leadership training.”

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan says while the union is engaging with the ministry on matters concerning MUET, it is also in discussion with the ministry on how to improve students’ competency in the English language.

“We have requested the ministry to bring in more stakeholders such as the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia, the minister’s advisors on teaching of English, examination divisions, conducting teacher training and reviewing the curriculum.

“It’s only then we believe we can contribute effectively towards the goals as set out in the English Language Education Reform in Malaysia: The Roadmap 2015-2025,” he says.

While the uproar has yet to settle down for English option teachers, even non English option teachers find themselves in a limbo.

Education Ministry deputy director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim told StarEdu it is not compulsory for non English language option teachers to sit for the test.

However, early last month, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching says these teachers will have to sit for it to allow them to teach the language and to upskill themselves.

By Sandhya Menon
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/06/09/is-muet-the-right-assessment/#exVSSahuwTCyRlrr.99